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KNIGHTHAWKS TRYING TO ROAR TO FOUR
02/16/2013 - 10:24am

By Travis Larner -- The Rochester Knighthawks hope to return home after back-to-back road games last weekend and extend their win streak to four games with a second straight over Buffalo.

After starting the season 0-3, the Knighthawks (3-3) have won three in a row to even their record at .500. On February 9th, Rochester visited Buffalo and downed the Bandits (3-3) in a convincing 15-7 win. On the night prior, the Knighthawks went to Philadelphia and set the National Lacrosse League’s season-high with 20 goals in a 20-10 victory.

The Knighthawks hope to see the same production from their offense as when they host the Bandits at The Blue Cross Arena on Saturday, February 16th at 7:30 p.m.

“We’ve been saying our offense is just a matter of time and they’ll click,” said Rochester Head Coach Mike Hasen. “We were fortunate enough that it clicked twice in the same weekend. We just got to move forward from there.”

In the first four games of the season, the Rochester offense only mustered 39 goals, the fewest in the league with 9.75 per game. However, it scored a combined 35 against Buffalo and Philadelphia.
Production came from everyone on the floor, led by Offensive Player of the Week Cody Jamieson (5+11), Dan Dawson (5+11) and Cory Vitarelli, who made ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays with a low, diving one-timer finish in Buffalo.

Making his return to the lineup was veteran forward Mike Accursi, who was a healthy scratch in losses to Buffalo and Toronto. For the last five games, Hasen has been forced to choose between playing either Accursi or Craig Point on the right-hand side of the offense.

“When were 0-1 and we’re searching a little bit, you try to make adjustments,” Hasen said. “That’s an adjustment we thought we could get away with. All the credit goes to Accursi coming back in and being a professional and they guy that we know we can count on week in and week out.”

“It’s always tough when you’re sitting out,” Accursi said. “You feel like you’re on the outside kind of looking in. Like [Hasen] said, you always try to put the best matchups to the teams that they feel are going to be the most successful.

“You have to accept that decision whether you like it or not. When you don’t like that decision, you have to try to prove them wrong so when you get the opportunity to get back into the lineup, you prove your worth.”

After the loss to Toronto on January 26th, Hasen had expressed his disappointment in the right-hand side of the offense. Without Accursi in the game, the only points produced by a right-handed player in that game were two assists by Casey Powell, while left-handers scored all seven goals.

With Accursi in the lineup against the Wings, Dan Dawson scored a season-high 11 points (4+7). Against Buffalo, Casey Powell (1+4) and Stephen Keogh (3+3) scored five and six points respectively. Accursi himself scored four goals against Buffalo and added another four points in Philadelphia (1+3).

“A lot of stuff that Mike does doesn’t necessarily show up in the game sheet,” Hasen said. “He works hard off-ball and he creates lanes and bangs guys through the middle…That’s one thing we need guys to follow his lead and follow his example.”

Although the Rochester locker room has been able to revel in their three wins, it knows to expect a much improved performance from the Bandits this Saturday despite the absence of the league’s all-time leading scorer, John Tavares, who will miss at least one more game.

“We’re looking for consistency, but at the same time, we also know that the Bandits weren’t at their best last weekend,” Hasen said. “We have all the respect for them and we know they’re going to come out even harder to prove a point that last week was a novelty on their side of things.”

“I’m sure we’ll see a much different team on Saturday,” said Accursi, who played eight seasons in Buffalo. “It just helps to fuel the rivalry.”

Although the Knighthawks lead the all-times series 27-20 over the Bandits, they haven’t won consecutive games over their New York State Thruway rival since the first two weeks of the 2010 season.
The game between the Bandits and Knighthawks can be seen live on the NLL on YouTube via The Lacrosse Network on Saturday, February 16th at 7:30 p.m.


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